Fencers get their weapons ready for the Gaborone Open
By Kagiso Fox Phatsimo
Botswana Amateur Fencing Association, (BAFA), will grant athletes the opportunity to test their speed, skill and precision at the 2017 Gaborone Open Fencing tournament this weekend. The competition will be held at Fairground Holdings Pavilion Hall in Gaborone on Saturday starting at 8am. This the Association’s third event of 2017.
The Gaborone Open follows the National Championship, which was held in Gaborone last month, and the first annual T.X. Fencing tournament also held in Gaborone in September. Front runners at the competition will stand a good chance of securing Fencing National team slots, for future regional tournaments.
All local fencing clubs and academies are set to participate at the event. Tlokweng Fencing Club, T.X. Fencing Squad, the Musketeers Fencing Club, Legae Academy Fencing Club, the University of Botswana Fencing Club, Thobega Fencing Academy and Westwood Fencing Club have all confirmed that they will partake.
Benjamins of age 15 and below, Cadets of age 15 – 17, Juniors of age 17 - 20, and Seniors of age 21 and above, will go head to head on the piste come Saturday. Veterans will also get an opportunity to teach the younger generation how it’s done. All three different weapons of fencing, which are Sabre, Epee and Foil, will be incorporated.
Legae Club, led by Master Karabo Thobega, will rely on the Mogapi siblings Ketsile and Loekeditswe in the Benjamin’s contest. The two have been on an upward spiral since they joined the sport in 2016. Should the draw pit the brother against his sister on Saturday, expect nothing but fireworks.
T.X. Fencing Club, which will be participating in their first national event led by Master Thato Mpoloka, will send Boemo Mpoloka and Onty Baleseng out to the strip with hopes of landing medals. The rookies will want to impress especially after the club hosted a competition two months ago.
Tlokweng Club, which is one of the oldest in Botswana, trained by Master Aobakwe Modise, will trust Tirelo Mokibe (Senior Men) and Boikobo Nkwe (Junior Women) to lead them. Add Thabile Pilane to the mix and you have a talented group of athletes, who look likely to dominate the competition.
In other fencing news, Master Thobega conducted a week-long training camp and officiated in the 2017 Namibian Open tournament, held in Windhoek, Namibia from the October 23 – 28. Thobega travelled with 12-year-old Alakanani Warona of Thobega Academy to the tournament. There the young athlete won silver in the Men’s U17 Epee contest.
In an interview with Echo Sport, Master Thobega said he learned a lot from the Namibian Fencing Federation (NFF).
“The 7 days I spent in Namibia were educational. I learned a lot about the importance of training camps. I learned new techniques from the Namibians. I learned that engaging my students is a necessity. The more you involve the youngsters in decision making, the faster they learn,” Master Thobega said.
“I believe if we adopt this strategy of conducting frequent training camps as Botswana, we will improve our quality. We need at least two camps per season to maintain a good level of competition. I hope going forward BAFA will include training camps in their calendar.”